Dr Muhammad Khan
Despite categorical denial, unprecedented coverage has been given to the national English daily Dawn article, “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military”. The article was published on October 6, 2016, without quoting the source. The meeting made mention of in the article was supposed to be of very high level and no journalist or the author of this article could have air to its proceedings. Then the sequential debate and discussion as reported in the article seems to have a source someone among the participants and who wanted to create a fissure among the civil and military leadership either to defame Pakistan or else to please the India and its strategic allies. After all is not serving the purpose of Pakistan.
The article has created lot of misperception both at the domestic and international level. Then, the timings of this article further weakened the state of Pakistan by showing a rift among the political leadership and military setup in Pakistan. Through this untimely publication, attempts have been made to create an impression that, perhaps the political government wanted to have a crackdown on the terrorist outfits and military part is reluctant to do that. Whereas, the reality is that, the security establishment started the crackdown on terrorists at time even to the dislikes of the political leadership.
On the issue of Operation Zarb-i-Azb, political leadership was still in some doldrums, once Pak Army under General Raheel Sharif started the operation in June 2014. At that time, political Government still desired to have negotiations with TTP leadership, once they were on offensive towards the Government. Then, there were never good or bad Taliban/ terrorists as far as the military establishment and the soldiers on ground are/ were concerned. The Pak Army rightly demonstrated it during the entire campaign against TTP and other groups of the terrorists. The Haqqani group or any other terrorist outfit was not the favourite for armed forces and the intelligence setup of the country. Combating the militants and terrorists was uniform without any discrimination.
The Government of Pakistan, spokesperson of Prime Minister has rejected the narration of the article in categorical terms. It was said in the rejection of the story that the contents of the articles are, “amalgamation of fiction and fabrication” and that, the contents of the story not only speculative but also misleading and factually incorrect. Besides, it was said in the same rejection that, “intelligence agencies, particularly the ISI, are working in line with the state policy in the best interest of the nation, both at the federal and provincial levels to act against terrorists of all hue and colour without any discrimination. Indeed the Army’s and ISI’s role and contributions towards implementation of NAP have been proactive and unwavering, the spokesman said.” Denial has also been made about exchange of hot words between ISI Chief and Chief Minister of Punjab.
Despite these rejections and denials of Government, the article has caused a dent in the otherwise unanimous efforts of the political and military leadership in the country. In the prevailing situation, the article has benefitted the Indian stance by portraying a Civil-Military divide in Pakistan. The investigation of the Pathankot attack and Mumbai attack are being carried out by the courts and Ministry of Interior Affairs is directly overseeing these developments. After initial investigation, IS and Pak Army has no role in the proceedings of the courts.
The Government should have emphasised the courts and Ministry of Interior to complete the investigation. Then, has India given sufficient evidence for the completion of the proceedings. There are lot of ifs and buts about the conduct of these attacks. The worthy daily has never raised a question, whether India completed its proceedings in a fair trails and has India completed the inquiry of Samjotha Express, where extremist Hindu, killed dozens of Pakistan visitor by burning the train at Panipath. There is need to understand the perspective of a discussion rather portraying that to the dis-advantage of the Government/state and against the national interests of Pakistan.
The diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, as mentioned in the article with reference to the presentation of Foreign Secretary, is the real weaknesses of our country. In last three years, Pakistan does not have a formal and full-time Foreign Minister. Two Advisors of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have two different streams on the issue of Foreign policy. Who stops the Government in appointing a full time foreign minister? If terrorism is the real cause of the diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, what about the global appreciation, Pakistan received for combating the terrorism in the past few years. The achievements of Pakistan are unprecedented and globally recognised. Should not have the government cashed on these achievements for a better place of the country in the comity of nations, rather facing the diplomatic isolation.
Whose responsibility it was; the Political set-up, the media or the military establishment. Then who stops the political Government to put a ban on the militant outfits and personalities like; Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jaish-i-Mohmmad, Haqqani network, Masood Azhar or Hafiz Saeed.
At this critical juncture, once security of the country is at stake, such dividing narratives will weaken the state and society, as there is a need for unity among all the political parties, society and other stakeholders. Besides, the media must project the national achievements and positive areas of this civil-military cooperation, rather exploiting the undesired frictions having no bases. The policy of Pakistan first and pursuing our national interests must be followed for a better and stronger Pakistan.
— The writer is International Relations analyst based in Islamabad.